Are False Rape Accusations Common

Over the past few decades, the way women are treated when they complain of rape has changed dramatically, often greatly increasing the way they are treated legally and socially. Claims of sexual assault are no longer routinely dismissed by police and the public, and complainants are protected to a much greater degree from humiliation in court. This brings up the question of how many rape accusations are false?

Percentage of False Rape Accusations

But how often do people make false rape allegations and how many rape allegations are false? Currently, there is no consensus as to the answer to that long-debated question. In fact, a number of research studies have been done on the question, but with differing results. For example, a 1994 study focused on rape arrests made by a single police department in the Midwest found that as many as 41 percent of the sexual assault complaints filed were false.

On the other hand, a 2008 study by the American Prosecutors Research Institute found that only two to eight percent of rape claims were false — and challenged the results of earlier studies, arguing that the relatively high numbers of false reports they claimed included reports better designated as unsubstantiated.

False Rape Reports

This research also found that the majority of those who file false rape reports have serious psychological and emotional problems, and that the reason they made up the sexual assault allegations was generally that they were seeking attention or sympathy. Other reasons for false rape claims were revenge or attempts to cover up indiscretions or illicit activity.

This information is essential for the public to understand. Even if the rate of false rape reports is only two percent, that means that many defendants are, in fact, falsely accused.

Source: The Outlook, “RAPE! … (ahem) OK, not really,” Mara Stine, Jan. 6, 2012

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